Along the Rio Grande

| June 2002

A collection of turn-of-the-century farming and ranching machinery has been on display for the past 30 years at the Burris Ranch headquarters south of Albuquerque, N.M., reminding passersby that agriculture was as diverse historically as it is today.

The farm implements and ranch wagons belong to Elizabeth Burris, who moved with her late husband, Weldon, to southwestern New Mexico in 1949 to establish a cattle ranch. The fertile valley of northern Socorro County, nourished by the Rio Grande River, supported the Pueblo Indians' ancient farming practices and, since the time of Spanish explorers, a rich ranching culture.

The Burrises leased the Lajoya Land Grant from its owner, a Montana man named Campbell whose first name Mrs. Burris does not remember, although he was known locally as 'Gen. Campbell.'

In time, the couple bought the Lajoya property, as well as other New Mexico ranches, including the Lazy E near Deming, in Luna County on the Mexican border. In 1972, they received the farming implements as a gift from Campbell, to thank them for their long lease of his land.

The farm implements, which are representative of Midwestern rather than New Mexican traditional farming, include a sulky plow, a small disk, cultivators, a dump rake, an iron-wheeled sickle mower and a road grader. Some pieces were long ago painted a dark green with red trim to match the wagons. The grader is a Galion brand; the name is cast into the machine. It was used on the Burris Ranch in Deming.

On display along with the implements, and intended to represent New Mexico's ranching heritage, are two vintage wooden wagons, which Mrs. Burris said probably are John Deeres. Deere & Company began selling such wagons in the 1880s.